by Julia Benally
Doctor Lang just slipped on her dark skinny jeans when her front door quivered with a mad series of hideously loud raps. Jumping, she strode from her spotless, white room and peered through the peep-hole. A jungle of bushy, red hair and a scraggly excuse for a goatee filled her vision and she frowned in disgust. Couldn’t a car horn have sufficed to call her out? No, this underweight, over tall, beaming zephyr had to come up to the front door. Please let him have real shoes on! Great, her neighbors could surely see him. Rumors about some asinine lover would circulate and ruin her reputation. This was not funny at all. With a groan, she straightened up and opened the door.
The Arizona summer heat blasted into her air-conditioned house with Dr. George North bouncing on its heels.
“Up and ready, Anna?” he questioned enthusiastically, his garlic breath as bad as the heat. Had he never heard of a toothbrush? His big, yellow chompers had dark coffee stains by his very red gums. The man needed some seriously heavy-duty whitening strips.
“Yes,” Dr. Lang replied shortly as her green eyes roved disdainfully down Dr. North’s smelly, plaid shirt and baggy, coffee cargoes. And there were those hideous, brown flip-flops; the egregiously perfect picture of a college professor who had never grown up. She knew the fool was infatuated with her. Maybe he would have half a chance if he at least bathed once a day… and covered up those hairy, pasty feet. Was it just her or did his toenails look bitten? Ugh, did the homunculus dream of kissing her with that heinous mouth?
“Ughm…” Anna heaved in disgust and realized that Dr. North’s gray eyes were planted firmly on her voluptuous, womanly curves. He had the look of a hungry lion… a repulsive, hungry lion.
“Did you say something?” he wondered of her bosom.
Anna almost threw up. “I said I’m ready,” she replied shortly and, snatching up her leather purse, followed him to a red van. Dr. North excitedly yanked open the sliding door and jumped in. He scooted over so that Anna could sit by him. Like she would ever do something that egregious! She glanced at Dr. Gary Greene who was hogging the front seat and promptly sat in the back with the kindly Dr. Melissa Berret. She was too old to be entertaining but she wasn’t Dr. North.
The reeking zephyr himself was not very sure what he had done wrong, but he was not so easily discouraged.
“To the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, Driver,” Dr. North crowed in Dr. Greene’s ear. The older man flinched.
“No one’s deaf up here, George,” he admonished sharply.
“Anna,” Dr. North said, ignoring Dr. Greene, “did you know that there are Apaches there?”
“Is that why it’s called the Fort Apache Indian Reservation?” Anna responded sarcastically.
“Indeed,” Dr. North said as if he were the smartest man on the planet. Now she would see how knowledgeable he was and be swept off her little feet. He could just see her emerald orbs widening in veneration. “Apaches worship nature,” he informed her. “They can feel the pain of the Earth.”
Anna started digging in her purse for her iPod. How loud would she have to blast it to drown Dr. North out?
“They all live in teepees,” he continued.
“Toilet paper?” Anna remarked spitefully.
“They have meat hanging to dry in their teepees and they wear moccasins all the time.”
“With no socks? That’s as bad as your flip-flops.”
“Apaches wear feathers and paint their faces. This trip is going straight into the wild west. You will be helpless there, Anna, for the things you excel at are obsolete. You don’t need schooling, you need a gun and a tough man beside you.” He straightened up proudly. “I know how to handle these Children of the Earth. Stick close to me and you’ll be safe.”
“Oh my gosh,” Anna groaned as she realized that she had left her music on the kitchen table.
Thinking he had frightened and impressed Anna, Dr. North’s head swelled. How demure and delicate she was! In a very superior voice, he continued to show off his mind-boggling wisdom. At that point, a very relieved Anna pulled out her Kindle. At least she hadn’t left that behind.
Dr. Berret, who had somehow misinterpreted Anna’s reactions, cut in, “Look, you two, this is a research trip. It would help if you went with open minds.”
“We don’t preconceive, Melissa,” Dr. North told her as he grinned wolfishly at Anna. “I don’t think Anna would ever do such a thing. She is a beautiful, educated young woman. We’ve done our homework. I’m sure we’ll have an amazing time.”
Dr. North sighed in admiration as he gazed at Anna. Her pert, bouncy, short hair gleamed like real gold. Her willowy, green, silk top brought out her fantastic, dark-lashed eyes. She was a lady that didn’t even need make up. She was a vibrant, young nymph waiting to be kissed. And he was just the dashing man to do it.
Anna shuddered. What absolutely revolting things were going through his puerile mind?
Anna gazed at the courtyard of the Theodore Roosevelt Boarding School and the Officer’s Quarters across from it as if her life were over. The big cottonwoods over the old houses shaded the cracked road. The small museum sat desolate and alone in the brazen sun. A big janitor with out-of-style, saggy Walmart pants swept the steps before the metal school doors. His black eyes glanced briefly at them before dropping back down to his work. An occasional, elderly tourist appeared to take pictures of several round bellied Apaches building some sort of mess with oak saplings.
“Look how blue the sky is here,” Dr. North crowed. “Ah, the weather is so perfect, and do you smell this mountain air? See, Anna? Do you see what they’re building? I told you, Children of the Earth!”
“Aw,” Anna responded as her eyes roved down to the janitor’s expensive Nikes, “but where are their moccasins?”
The red zephyr’s freckled brow furrowed, making his golden nymph grin triumphantly.
“Nevertheless, my dear Anna,” Dr. North said as he gathered his wits, “they speak their own language. I’m going to ask them if they will speak to me in it!”
“Embarrass yourself for all I care,” Anna snipped.
Dr. North didn’t seem to hear her and he moved to break off from the group, but Dr. Greene caught his arm.
“Hold on, George,” he said, “the tour’s about to start.”
“It’s an Apache, too,” Dr. Berret added, hoping to encourage some propriety on her pungent colleague’s part. Nevertheless, she was prepared to be embarrassed.
Soon, a woman in black dress pants and a silk, flowery top left one of the old, stone houses along Officer’s Row and headed for them. Her raven hair done up in a neat bun shone vibrantly in the sun. As she approached, her quick, black eyes roved over them as if by their dress she could tell what sort of people they were. Although, to Dr. North, her figure was not quite as perfect as Anna’s, she was just as easy on the eyes.
“She has gel in her hair,” Anna pointed out with some satisfaction to her stink associate.
Dr. North frowned in rising horror. What had befallen this Child of the Earth to turn her so hideously modern?! Bounding over like a mad hero, he crushed her delicate hand with his massive, freckled one and shook it violently. Her whole body shook and her sunglasses slipped off her head down to the tip of her nose.
“George,” Dr. Greene admonished as his ears burned with embarrassment.
“I’m so sorry,” Dr. North told the Earth Child as he shoved her sunglasses clumsily back onto her head. “I was just so excited. You know how it is.” He impulsively pushed her hair from her face. “You have the most beautiful hair.” That was when he noticed, with some chagrin, the little golden cross around her neck. “You smell divine! What Native scent is this?”
The woman pulled away with a start but forced a smile and said in an accent so different from what the professors knew, “Sweet Pea… You’ve never been here before, have you.”
“He’s never been anywhere,” Anna said to no one in particular.
The woman glanced at Anna as if she understood every meaning in that sentence. Putting the sunglasses on, the woman introduced herself cheerfully, “My name is Marianne.”
“Marianne?!” Dr. North cried in outrage. “I thought your name was Rising Sun, or White Dove, or…”
“I’m your tour guide,” Marianne cut him off, her sunglasses covering the fact that she wanted to run. This guy was a madman. “If you have any questions ask me and hopefully I’ll know the answer.” She smiled at her own joke whilst Dr. North gave a great, big, gauche guffaw. Anna dug in her bag for own sunglasses and realized that she had left them with her iPod on the kitchen table.
On the porch of the B.I.A Clubhouse, a sizable, white building in 1800’s fashion, Anna espied Dr. North opening his mouth to talk to her so she rapped out a quick question for Marianne: “What’s up with the two doorknobs?”
“People were shorter back then,” Marianne replied as she let them in.
“Uh…” Anna glanced fearfully at Dr. North who was once more about to comment. “Do you have any primary sources that I could look at?”
Before Marianne could respond, an indignant Dr. North cut in, “Anna, Apaches don’t have a written history. They learn everything they know from their elders and they memorize it. They can’t read, remember?”
“Where did you hear that?” Marianne demanded as if Dr. North were the living end, which he was.
“Word of mouth, just like you,” Dr. North replied proudly. He was on common ground now. “Say, Marianne, I see there are stairs here. What is up there in that white washed space? It looks pretty empty. Do you do rituals of some sort?”
“Let’s have a look, shall we?” Marianne suggested with a bright smile as the janitor from the school walked in. She glanced at him in some curiosity then led the way upstairs.
“Now we get to know some real secrets,” Dr. North whispered excitedly to Anna as he galloped upstairs.
Ignoring the big ape, Anna marched up to the janitor, the only one not in Dr. North’s abominable presence, and snipped, “Why don’t you fix the walls? And there are cracks in the floor.”
The janitor gazed at her with an extremely lazy expression. “What?” he wondered and glanced about. “It doesn’t smell, does it?”
“It smells like Pine Sol, but this is a tourist attraction. It needs to look like one,” Anna continued.
“Historic cracks,” the janitor shot back with a grin and walked off.
“Don’t you turn your back on me,” Anna cried as she ran after him.
He turned about and she slammed flat into his big chest. “Come to give me a good-bye kiss?” he questioned horridly. “Or have you come to see me turn into a werewolf? Sorry, I don’t do that.”
“Now I see what you read,” Anna huffed.
“Sorry, I don’t read, remember?”
“Where is your boss?” she demanded huffily. “You’ll be fired!”
“And?” he wondered flippantly.
Anna backed away from him as if he were some kind of demon. “Marianne,” she shouted, “Marianne!”
Marianne came downstairs as if she were at a tea party. “What?”
“That janitor…” Anna looked wildly around for him. “That janitor that was here… I want to see his boss!”
“What was his name?” Marianne wondered.
Anna suddenly realized that she had no clue. His name tag had been flipped over.
“Well?” Marianne asked.
“That big one! He… that one in front of the school,” Anna replied helplessly.
“Sorry, I can’t accuse random janitors just because you’re trying to get away from Dr. North,” remarked Marianne unhelpfully.
“Wha…?” Anna blustered indignantly. “Marianne… I wasn’t… I mean…”
Smiling sweetly, Marianne called everyone to her. But Dr. North wouldn’t come down. They could hear him stomping from one end of the floor to the other. Suppressing an annoyed sigh, Marianne went to fetch him.
“George,” she said in a very un-tourist guide like tone, “what are you doing?”
“You have computers?!” he wailed as if his world had come to an end.
Marianne stared at him. This weirdo was a maniac and she was not going to stay up here alone with him.
“Okay, we’re off,” she voiced in as upbeat a tone as she could muster, and ran.
Behind her, that big ape came leaping down the stairs. She tried to get away but her tour group strolled as if they had all day to reach the door. In a frightful moment, Dr. North grasped Marianne’s shoulders. If she started he had no idea.
“This place is great, Marianne,” he complimented into her face.
Marianne chuckled nervously as she pulled his hands off, stepped back and fanned her face. The man was the stinkiest creature next to a drunk that hadn’t bathed in a week and spent it throwing up.
“Sure,” she replied, trying to humor the madman.
“George,” Dr. Greene hissed under his breath.
“Next house!” Marianne announced abruptly before that lunatic could do anything else and strode quickly for one of the stone buildings. Here, she just let them wander while she answered a phone call on her cell. She spoke in the guttural Apache for some minutes. Dr. North just stood and stared at her with wide eyes. She kept glancing at him. Did she think he was so handsome? A thrill ran through him. He could just imagine all the lovely things the Earth Child was saying about him. Ah, but his loyalties were to Anna, the golden-haired nymph who walked on the wind.
When Marianne hung up, Dr. North called out ecstatically, “That was awesome.” He gave her the thumbs up.
A strained smile crossed her face. “What was?”
“Your language, of course! Can you teach me some words?”
“I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to pronounce them. Maybe I’ll teach you after the tour’s over… if there’s time,” she added quickly. She would personally make sure there was no time. There was no way she was going to spend anymore time with this halitosis weirdo with the sweaty, pungent feet.
“It’s a deal,” Dr. North boomed excitedly and slapped her hard on the back. Marianne staggered forward and glared at him as if he were a great fiend. He didn’t see it in his bubbly world though. All he knew was that an Earth Child craved him while he desired the golden nymph. My, my, what a love triangle this was! This was so Hollywood! Suddenly he realized that the Earth Child had up and left him without a word.
Before he could figure out why, he spotted a small girl in a pink, sparkly shirt observing him from the far window. Her thick, black locks were braided back while small, wispy hairs stuck out all over her forehead like bangs. She still had her baby cheeks and black eyes as lovely as Marianne’s.
“ANNA!” he bellowed as he bounced into the other room before she could escape and seized her arm. He dragged her back and pointed at the window. To his chagrin, the little girl was gone.
“What now?” Anna demanded in irritation.
“She’s playing hide and seek!”
“We will find her! Let’s go!”
“No,” Anna cried in shock. “We’re going to General Custer’s cabin, now come on.” So saying, she caught his scarecrow arm and dragged him bodily from the building. He didn’t mind though. Anna was touching him! Thrills and chills ran through his frame as his mind meandered to pornographic imaginings.
They headed down the shady road to the small cabin at its end. Weeds and grass grew in the garden. Cats wandered all over the place and the stench of something dead permeated the spring air.
“Ew, what is that?” Anna demanded as she covered her delicate nose.
“There’s a dead cat in the yard,” Marianne explained carelessly as she went inside with the others.
Anna grimaced. Where was that stupid janitor? Wasn’t he supposed to be picking this place up? Just as she thought of him, he walked into the little garden. If he was following them it didn’t occur to her.
“Someone call?” he asked with a cheesy grin.
“You!” Anna huffed. “This animal’s been dead for days and only now you’re going to pick it up? Who hired you? You’re an untrustworthy no account! I demand to see your boss and know your name!”
The janitor beamed. “You want to know my name?” He held his big arms out. “Come turn my tag over, baby.”
“Marianne,” Anna screeched. “Marianne!”
“I’ll pick you up for lunch,” offered the janitor. “We can drink pop from the bottle.”
“How dare you!”
“Two different bottles?”
The janitor ran away, chuckling like a giant imp. Finally, Marianne came out.
“It’s time for lunch,” she announced happily. “We’re going to eat tailgate.” This was so great, the day was almost over! Soon that nightmare George would be gone. Paying no attention to Anna’s ridiculous blustering, she hurried to her blue car. She was nearly to the gates before the teachers had a chance to get into the van and speed after her.
They hadn’t gone too far before their wheel busted and they had to pull over.
“I’ll get help,” Dr. North cried as he leaped from the van like a mad gazelle and loped down into the thick cottonwoods covering a river and houses.
“George,” Dr. Greene shouted, “get back here!”
“Oh dear,” Dr. Berret groaned.
Dr. Greene was in his fifties but he was an athletic man and he ran after George. He hoped against hope that George wasn’t running amok among the houses. That was when he heard children screaming and they didn’t sound happy. Cursing under his breath, Dr. Greene followed the sounds until he came upon George chasing six little Apache girls towards their house.
“George,” Dr. Greene mouthed in horror.
He could only stand and watch as a monster of a man appeared from behind the house. He caught George in one huge, brown hand and BAP! His massive fist busted George in the face and the scarecrow tumbled head over heels. The giant Apache went after him as his wife emerged from the house with a rifle, ready to blast George’s freckled butt off.
“Wait,” Dr. Greene shouted desperately as he stumbled into view.
The giant man turned fiercely to the professor. “You want some, too?!” he roared as he descended on Dr. Greene’s smaller form.
“It’s been a mistake,” Dr. Greene squeaked as he became very aware of the neighbors watching. He felt he was going to die. “I was just looking for George. Our van got a flat and George just ran off!”
“What’s he doing chasing my little girl and her friends?!”
“He’s obsessed with Apaches,” Dr. Greene explained quickly, feeling the blood leave his cheeks. “He doesn’t mean any harm.”
The watching Apaches entered the yard, surrounding them. George started screaming as he covered his luscious, red locks.
“They’re going to scalp us,” he wailed.
“Shut up, George,” Dr. Greene snapped.
As George crawled to him and hugged his leg, Dr. Greene realized that the Apaches carried crowbars, bats and one had nun-chucks. Where did they plan to conceal their bodies?! Why did he ever go after George’s stupid hide?! If he didn’t die, he’d be in the hospital wishing he had.
The Apaches came closer, the dogs barked and barked. The cottonwood forest pressed around them like a great, impenetrable wall. At this moment in which Death stared him in the face, Dr. Greene grew furious with Dr. North. Jerking him up, he delivered such a punch that George sprawled back down.
“This is all your fault you idiot,” Dr. Greene exploded.
The Apaches halted a moment and stared. Suddenly, the giant started laughing, followed by the others. They backed off a bit and stood around smiling at Dr. Greene. He was so confused.
“So,” said the giant conversationally, “what’s wrong with him?” He indicated Dr. North.
“He’s… I don’t know… excited…” Dr. Green replied haltingly, shaken from his near death experience.
“For little girls?” the man wondered grimly as his black eyes glinted dangerously.
“He’s been driving me crazy all day. I have to get him back to Phoenix.” Why weren’t they calling the cops on them? He would have preferred that than to have seen his life flash before his eyes.
“Hm,” the giant grunted. “I’ll help you so you can get this…” He indicated George with his chin. “… out of here.” With that, he gripped George by the foot and dragged him out of the yard. Dr. Greene followed helplessly. Somehow it would not do to help George after he had punched him and gained the good graces of these furious men.
As they neared the van, the man with the nun-chucks said, “That was a pretty good punch. What’s your name?”
“Gary Greene,” the doctor replied.
“I’m Bob. Are you a boxer?”
“Yeah,” Dr. Greene answered as he began to realize that he was going to live. These people were pretty friendly for a group of would be murderers.
“I could tell. Hey, I know you from the school. You’re a tourist.”
“A research trip,” Dr. Greene responded.
“I’m a janitor over there,” said Bob happily as he swung the nun-chucks gracefully through the air.
“You… you knew who I was?” Dr. Greene cried in disbelief. Bob was going to beat him up anyway!
Bob chuckled as if it were the greatest thing he’d ever done. “Yeah.”
Dr. Greene watched the nun-chucks spin at Bob’s side and decided it wasn’t very healthy to reprimand.
At last they reached the van and the group of Apaches appeared like a massive army on the road. Their little, red prisoner bounced along by his foot in the giant’s hand. At the sight, Dr. Berret covered her mouth in horror and scurried up to them.
“What happened?!” she cried.
“Don’t worry,” Dr. Greene assured. “We’re fine and these young fellows have offered to help us.”
“That’s good,” responded Dr. Berret as she gazed at George’s bruised face in consternation. She was the only one who cared. Anna glanced at Dr. North once before her green eyes rested permanently on the giants. There was that janitor! He had no shirt on. Oooo! She tore her eyes away. Would he still pick her up for lunch? But he didn’t. He just helped to replace the tire with those big hands.
Just as the Apaches left, Marianne returned and pulled up beside them. She rolled her window down and asked merrily, “What happened?”
The driver looked positively thrilled as he responded, “Dr. North got beat up and Dr. Greene almost got beat up.”
Marianne grinned with savage delight. At the sight, Dr. North grew rather bold and finally got up from where the giant had dropped him.
“See, old man? I knew what I was doing. What do you think, Anna? I saved the day.”
“You certainly did,” Anna replied sarcastically.
Dr. North bounded over and, placing his hand on the van, leaned over Dr. Lang in the sexiest fashion his slender frame could muster. Hopefully the Earth Child would see and grow jealous. She would call upon her minions to dispose of Anna and then he would have to rescue his golden nymph. For thank you, Anna would give herself to him. He could have a steady girlfriend by this time tomorrow!
A waft of stench emanated from his arm pit and Anna gagged. She quickly moved away, fanning her face. Why did that “thing” wish to be close to her?! If the big Apache man saw this… she looked quickly around for him. Maybe he was hiding stealthily in the bushes, waiting for his chance to kidnap her? If he was, he would see the egregious Dr. North and leave Anna a manless wretch. Oh, why was she so awful to that sexy janitor?
“That was a great lunch, Marianne,” Dr. North complimented as he gobbled the last of his Apache Burger down. “It was a good thing you got us food. But… it’s really hot, isn’t it?” He wiped the tears from his eyes and fanned his scarlet face.
“Mine wasn’t hot,” Dr. Greene voiced in confusion. “It was very good.” He glanced suspiciously at Marianne who smiled pleasantly at him.
“We’ll continue the tour,” said Marianne abruptly, “as soon as Dr. Lang and Dr. Berret get back from the bathroom.”
“They’ve been gone awhile,” replied Dr. Greene. “I think I better check on them.”
Just as he stood up, Dr. Berret hurried into the cafeteria all in a flutter.
“I can’t find Anna,” she told them worriedly.
Dr. North leaped heroically to his feet. He would save his golden nymph at any cost!
“Marianne,” he boomed in her face like a stink beanpole, “what have you done with her?!”
Marianne rolled her eyes and pushed him away. “Look,” she voiced in a very hard tone, “you smell and I can’t breathe… and your feet stink,” she added. “Dr. Berret, Dr. Greene, check the houses. If no one’s found her we’ll search the neighborhood.”
They split up.
As Marianne headed for the museum, the little girl in the pink shirt ran over with a group of her little friends. Her sparkling, pink shoes lit up with every foot fall.
“Are you looking for that white chick?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Marianne responded. “Did you see her?”
“Yeah. She took off with Bob.”
“Bob?” Marianne demanded as if he were a disgusting individual.
After gathering the searchers, Marianne led them to Bob’s house. His gray truck was out front. Before anyone could do anything, Dr. North sprang from the van in righteous indignation. What atrocities was that savage visiting upon his golden nymph?!
“George,” Dr. Greene shouted at the wild man’s fleeing form. He was having near death encounter flashbacks. Marianne leaped from her car and shoved Dr. North bodily out of the way where he fell into four happy dogs that started licking his face.
Marianne just walked in. She found a shirtless Bob sitting on the floor, playing UNO with Anna who wore his shirt. She looked like a happy tramp. Bob’s three little sisters lazed on the couch watching cartoons. A pair of two liter Cokes stood half gone nearby.
“Bob!” Marianne exploded.
Everyone jumped and looked up. Bob grinned with a sheepish “Hey.”
“Everybody’s looking for her.”
“Yeah, well, she seemed really strung up and all so I brought her here to unwind.” He chuckled at Anna who chortled back.
“I may need to unwind forever,” Anna added dreamily.
“You said I needed a girlfriend,” Bob pointed out. “I have one now.”
“We’re sisters, Marianne,” Anna voiced happily.
Before Marianne could reply, Dr. Berret cried out behind her, “Anna Lang, what are you doing?!”
“I quit,” Anna said firmly and took a swig from the coke bottle.
“You’re so gauche! Get your clothes back on. We have to go home right now.”
“Never!” She planted herself in Bob’s lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I’m going to stay here.”
“Anna,” Dr. North wailed in horror, “you can’t stay here! You have to come back with us.”
“I think not,” Anna replied and rubbed noses with Bob.
“Oh for goodness sake,” Dr. Berret intoned. “You have a house and a career in Phoenix. What will we tell the school board?”
“Tell them that a wild Apache stole me away,” Anna said simply.
“Stole?! You went willingly!”
“He stole my heart and I will remain here with him forever.”
Marianne just walked out as Dr. North started howling in horror. She sat on the porch, laughing until her stomach hurt.
Dear Dr. Berret,
Anna and my brother Bob are expecting their first child. They ran out of invitations so they asked me to write to invite you and Dr. Greene to the baby/bridal shower. They also said Dr. North can come if he behaves himself.
Dr. Berret signed out of her e-mail as a muscular, tall man strode confidently into the library. He had a military haircut, a fitted suit, nice dress shoes and a shiny briefcase in hand.
“How did your students do on the quiz, Dr. North?” Dr. Berret asked as she stood up.
“They hated it,” Dr. North replied as he approached her. “Dr. Berret, about what I told you. Do you think it’s a good idea? I’m not the same person that I was a year ago.”
Dr. Berret smiled. “You are definitely not. All you can do is try. Marianne might give you a chance.”
“Thank you,” Dr. North replied with a winning smile.
[Featured]Artist Image Credit: Massapoag Point by Debra Bretton Robinson. ©Copyright 2015, Debra Bretton Robinson
Snapping Twig – Spring – 2015
Vol: Feb 2015 thru Apr 2015